Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mark Dance to help LifeWay become ‘best friend to pastors’

By Marty King

Arkansas pastor Mark Dance will join the staff of LifeWay Christian Resources to lead efforts in building closer relationships between the entity LifeWay and pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dance, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, Conway since 2001, will begin serving Oct. 1 as LifeWay’s associate vice president for pastoral leadership.

Thom S. Rainer, LifeWay’s president and CEO, said Dance will develop and strengthen LifeWay’s relationships with SBC pastors and staff, as well as denominational entities, state conventions, and associations.

“I love pastors,” Rainer said. “One of my prayers when I was called to this position was the Lord would allow LifeWay to be a best friend to pastors and staff. And, one of my ongoing goals is that LifeWay would provide the resources our pastors need to lead their churches to reach people and make disciples. Calling Mark Dance is the next step toward that dream.”

“Mark has experienced the challenges pastors face, and, after eight years as a trustee, he knows LifeWay well enough to coordinate pastoral resources from across all our divisions. I’ve asked Mark to launch whatever initiatives we need to intentionally connect us with the needs of pastors and their staffs.”

Dance said he is humbled and excited about the new ministry, but will miss his church.

“I love our church family tremendously and am thankful for God’s hand of favor on Second Baptist Church. Maybe that is why He has chosen this time to reassign me to another ministry,” Dance explained. “Second has been wonderfully supportive and loving, and fortunately sees this more as sharing their pastor than losing their pastor.”

“My original calling to the ministry is being both narrowed and broadened,” he said. “Narrowed from pastoring members to pastoring pastors. Broadened from pastoring locally to pastoring nationally and even some internationally through LifeWay’s extensive ministries and partnerships.”

“I aspire to be a voice of encouragement and hope to those struggling personally or professionally. Paul encouraged Timothy to preach through both the good and bad seasons. I have pastored through both, and consequently there are not many ministry mistakes I haven’t made or blessings I haven’t experienced in the last 27 years.”

“I also want to help provide opportunities for pastors to develop their gifts and fulfill their calling. Since only about 1 out of every 10 who start ministry will actually finish in the ministry, I consider it a privilege to be that ‘son of encouragement’ to those still pastoring.

A native Texan, Dance has served as a summer missionary in Kenya and Japan , as well as on mission teams to more than two dozen countries. He is completing his eighth year as a LifeWay trustee. Prior to his call to Second Baptist, Dance pastored churches in Tennessee and Texas. He earned a D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dance and his wife, Janet, who is a registered dietitian, have been married 26 years and have two children. Holly is married and lives in Arkadelphia, and Brad is a senior at Conway High School. In Conway, Dance has served as a chaplain to the Conway Police Dept since 2006. An avid bowhunter, he has been a member of the Natural Gear Pro-Staff since 2008.